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A Horseman’s Horseman – Jeffrey Pait

Filed under: Current Articles,Featured |     

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186 – November/December, 2019

By Rachel Kooiker

       To be good at selecting and preparing Halter horses, a horseman must not only see all the tiny details, but also be able to evaluate and manage those fine points. AQHA Professional Horseman Jeffrey Pait has proven that he’s one such horseman. When asked what brought him to a love of and lifetime career spent training horses, he immediately refers to his upbringing. He says, “My daddy was an AQHA judge and, you know, I just grew up around horses all my life. I had a great childhood growing up. I know things change, but I got to live through a time that a lot of kids won’t ever get the chance to do. Going to the open shows and going to weekend sales… you just learn so much by being there.”
       Pait grew up in Bladenboro, NC, and his early experiences spent with horses, while being immersed in 4-H, farming, and training, laid the foundation for a lifetime of success in the show pen. Pait is joined in this passion by his two younger brothers, Jamie and E.H., who are also AQHA trainers and World Champions in their own right. Pait’s brothers specialize in Western Pleasure horses, while Jeffrey has directed his passion for training and showing toward Halter. But don’t think he’s a one trick pony. Pait smiles and says, “As a kid, we did the all-around. We rode them, and we led them. I made my first AQHA Champion, Jack The Dude, a stallion that my father had bought as three-year-old.”
       Pait speaks to the role his father played in instilling a strong work ethic in his son. He recalles, “My dad always said that if you want to know something, go to the best people and just ask them what they’re doing. I would go to the best and ask them questions, and I learned a lot that way.” Pait also points to professionals he’s worked for who influenced him. “I learned a lot from Gene Parker. I got a lot of experience looking at horses and seeing how he evaluated a horse. I learned a lot about business from Lou Dobbs. Peter Cofrancesco Jr. was instrumental in allowing me to go out and look at horses. I also spent a lot of time with Larry Sullivant while working for the Cofrancesco family. With Larry, I learned a lot about looking at horses and understanding their core, in order to really understand what makes a great horse.”
A Career is Born
       Pait grew up saturated in a life of horses; but, after high school, he found himself in college and working part-time for Gene Parker. He was a bit unsure of what direction he was headed. He recalls, “I was taking business courses, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do right then, to be honest with you. I started out helping Gene part-time, and it turned into full-time. I rode and did a bit of everything at Gene’s place. We had Halter horses, Western Pleasure horses, and Western Riding horses. It was a great time to be coming up in the horse industry. Futurities were big and classes were huge and tough.” After working for Parker, Pait made his way into the employ of Mr. Clinton Miles of Albany, Georgia. Pait recalls, “Georgia was a hot place for horses. It was a great time to grow up in the ‘80s, with me being in my early twenties. We had a lot of young horses. Eventually, we had a big production sale and sold almost everything. Lou and Debi Dobbs were moving their horse operation from Georgia to New Jersey, and they needed help, so I went to New Jersey. That’s where I met my wife, Bronwyn. Jeffrey and Bronwyn now have one daughter, Abigail. Pait speaks with pride about his family, “Abigail grew up riding and was the 2011 AQHYA President. She attended the University of South Carolina where she rode on the equestrian team. She has now graduated and went to work as a public relations manager for the non-profit, Curing Kids Cancer.”
       In his early career, Pait was approached by Peter Cofrancesco Jr. about a position working for his family. Pait says, “We just really hit it off. We had the same values and vision. I enjoy showing and competing, and he wanted someone to help his family. They also had a few broodmares, and I enjoy breeding horses, too. It worked out really well. We had the same ideas and the same goals; we were on the same page from the get-go.” Jeffrey’s instinct about the match with the Cofrancesco family was right. He spent 26½ years with Cofrancesco and his family. He adds, “Peter was really big in getting involved with the AQHA and local charters and with me getting my judge’s card as well.” Pait did earn his AQHA judge’s card and began judging in 1994. He’s also an NSBA and WCHA judge. When asked his favorite part about judging, Pait’s voice sparks with passion. he says, “I love judging the futurities, especially the babies. They’re new and you’re always looking for that next great horse. There have been years when there have been great groups of horses that have come along at the same time. I’ve been doing it long enough that it’s pretty exciting to see a great one come along.”
       In 2013, Jeffrey and Bronwyn made a move to Aiken, South Carolina, where they currently own and operate Pait Show Horses. Pait explains, “I grew up in North Carolina, and I had always wanted to return to the south. We had an opportunity to move to South Carolina, which was a perfect fit since Abigail was attending the University of South Carolina.” The move has proven to be a fulfilling one. Pait shares that he and Bronwyn find great joy and satisfaction in working to help clients meet a goal they’ve set for themselves. Pait confides, “Whether it’s going to a weekend horse show or winning a title, we just get a lot out of finding out what goals people have and helping them get there.”
The Program 
       The cornerstone of Pait’s program is tailoring everything to best enhance the individual horse. “I enjoy taking a young horse, or any horse, and enhancing and improving it the best we can. They are what they are, but consistency is important. I do all of my own feeding of all the show horses every morning. Consistency is the biggest thing with Halter horses, although that’s true with any horse. Being consistent, you start with your feeding, general care, and it’s a meticulous process. When you get to conditioning, you can’t just go out there and work them X amount of minutes. You have to be in tune with the individual horse, and change and tweak your program for what they need and respond to,” he says.
       Pait has also been heavily involved in the World Conformation Horse Association. Jeffrey speaks to the role of the WCHA and his philosophy of what makes a good horse. He says, “I think the WCHA has really made great strides in putting information out there and helping the Halter horse industry. Conformation is important. That’s how Wimpy P-1 became the first registered Quarter Horse. He won a conformation class. So, conformation is the base for everything. It doesn’t matter what discipline you’re going to do, you need sound conformation. That’s the one thing we’ve gotten away from because of specialization, but it’s the key to longevity to the horse and doing its job as well as possible. They are athletes.”

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186 – November/December, 2019

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